There used to be a serial called “Hum Paanch” a long time ago. It was a story of 5 sisters and had a character “aunty” who was always conscious of anyone calling her aunty. So her pet dialogue was, “Aunty mat kaho na!” As moms, we are used to very old kids calling us aunty, and we take it in our stride. It is like once you become a mother, you become universal aunty.

But, I remember the jolt I felt when I was called aunty for the first time. I was newly married and 26 at that time.After my wedding, we visited the houses of many of my husband’s friends. At one such friend’s house, the lady of the house warmly welcomed us. She then called her daughter who was studying in 12thstandard at that time. She introduced us, and what do you know. The girl says, “Hello aunty?” I was just a few years older to her and she calls me aunty. I was so stunned that I almost fell off the chair. I am sure my expression must have said it all :). Her mom could gauge my reaction and embarked upon her own tales where she had been called aunty in a similar way.

No, I have no trouble in accepting my age. But, I find it plain stupid that someone would do that. Some women deliberately call other women aunty in their effort to feel young. I really don’t know. After that rude shock, I had no trouble with anyone calling me aunty ever :). But, I do give it back to smart ass men and women of my age who try to do this.

Yes, it is a cultural thing that most Indians call their parents’ friends uncles and aunties instead of Mr. or Ms. It is a hangover from the olden days when people were called kaka, kaki, tau, bua, mausi etc. which have been anglicized uniformly as uncle and aunty. Frankly, I am happy with the relatives I have and don’t want unwanted ones especially of the older variety springing surprises on me ;-).

Did you ever face these “uncle” and “aunty” experiences?

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182 Thoughts on “Aunty Who?

  1. It is a picquant situation where we want to retain our cultural identity by addressing each other as uncle, aunty, didi, bhaiya at the same time are reluctant to accept the western way of world to call by first names!!But yes some situations could be difficult, Rachna:)

    • I agree, Rahul! But some people use it to deliberately bug others or just don’t have the sensitivity to understand these things. Kids are understandable. My sons are likely to call my friends uncle and aunty too.

  2. Nah…I don’t think “Aunty” is age related.It is more ” Relation ” related .
    But,one always has a choice of saying what aunty said in ” Hum Paanch”

    • But, then say didi or bhaiya. We were told to call younger men and women, didi or bhaiya not uncle and aunty. Uncle and aunty clearly connote older people of your parents’ generation.

  3. Aah! All the time!! And let me tell you that it is so very irritating!! Aunty/Uncle should be addressed to those people who are a whole generation older than you! A few years older does not qualify you to be an Aunty!!

  4. I have been called aunty as soon as I was a graduate. 🙂 I suppose we are conditioned to call anyone with some title. We seldom call someone with their name.
    In the temple we call any woman as Mataji and men as Prabhuji. A woman who came in new and did not know this got irritated and said don’t call me ‘Mataji’. 😛

    I often wonder why we get irritated when someone calls us aunty where as we don’t get irritated by a ‘masi’, bua, mami etcs.

    • I would be equally bugged if she had called me bua, tayi, mausi, kaki or whatever :). Didi would be fine, or she could have called me by name. Imagine calling a young lady, mataji, she would be mortified :). I’ve heard most people being irritated by this.

  5. Oh..this is sooo not happening 🙂 I struggle big time If I call anyone they get annoyed even if they have kids half your age!!… once i was at a department store and I called the woman at the cashier ….Aunty ..who literally had all white hair and looked almost 10 yrs older than my mum…and she gave me sucha bad eye look!…

    And it happened wih me too… I feel this awkwardness to hear aunty after my name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! why in India we just cant call ppl with their first names or address them as sir or mam…rather than tagging ppl as aunty, uncle, bhaiya or didi…

    • hehe I don’t know what to say about that lady. But, I feel that we really must begin discarding this aunty approach. Why make everyone our relative? Lets call them Sir or Madam or I sometimes see their badges and address them by their names. Another peculiar trait of us Indians — this aunty uncle thingy.

  6. Interesting experience. Everyone has to go through this sometime or the other I guess. I was called uncle while still at college by my toddler cousin. At his age he found it difficult to accept a so much older cousin. Now the boy had grown up and will be entering college next year. I am hoping some kid calls him uncle too.

    I think I have a whole lot of other age related stories. But if I write all that it will become a blog post. So maybe I will write a blog post itself.

    • hehe “I am hoping some kid calls him uncle too.” Absolutely, go ahead write a post. Just yesterday, the newspaper guy came to collect his bill. He must be my age or at least he looks like a middle-aged man. He called me, “aunty.” I gave him such an icy glare that he froze in his path. I am not exaggerating. I just said, “Aunty?” He never uttered the word again in all the conversation. I had a huge laugh after he left.

  7. By the way, Hum Panch was a good serial. Wish they still made serials like that. Nowadays all serials are sick.

  8. When I was called uncle for the first time, it was a very shocking experience. Over time you get used to it and now I have been bombarded with the word so many times that I have given in. Ageing gracefully is difficult, I tell you.

    • I have gotten used to it too, but when it is an older man or woman who does it I give it back :). To kids, I am much more tolerant even adult kids of my friends, I understand.

  9. LOL Rachna 😀 it has happened to me several times. Eventually, I evolved my own defense mechanism to the similar situation (specially when the other person is not so younger than me) to make that person equally embarrassed if not more. I’d like to share my wisdom here. 😛

    I got married at the age of 30. One day while I was shopping for my marriage I went to a bag shop where a group of college students were also shopping for their college bags. The shopkeeper was already busy so he didn’t listen to my call. So I just stood their waiting for him. In the meantime, a girl from the group called me AUNTY and pointed towards the shopkeeper who was now free and asked me about my choice of purse. I was immediately taken aback and felt humiliated of being called Aunty (I was not even married yet). So impulsively and very politely, I told that girl that “if I am aunty to you then definitely you are wearing diapers!” The girl apologized, while her friends stared in awe.

    I really felt as if I had defended my dignity and self respect. Since then I use the same tact in the similar situations. But I make sure to never do this to the kids or those who seem younger than 15 yrs to me. However, if a lady of equal age calls me “Aunty” I make sure to address her in an equally respectful manner or may be something more, like Aunty Ji, Chachi Ji, Daadi Ji or Amma Ji 🙂

  10. It is annoying when people of your age group call you aunty/uncle:(
    Great take!!